Windows 10 for Phone to Support New Bluetooth Hands-Free Profiles for Improved Quality

As part of the new Windows 10 for Phone, Microsoft is making sure that it includes the latest and greatest in Bluetooth Hands-Free Profiles for improved sound and voice quality.  As part of the wide range of announcements they made last week at WinHEC in China, Microsoft announced that the new mobile platform will support the Hands-Free Profile (HFP) standard 1.6 which requires, amongst other things, the support for high definition audio.  Microsoft is referring to this as Wideband speech but you may also know if it as HD Voice and it should significantly improve the audio quality of calls and using voice activated services like Cortana on the new platform.

Currently in Windows Phone 8.1, only narrowband audio is only support which can lead to voice quality issues on calls and can lead to voice activated service not understanding your commands.

Vertical Wide Tile in Windows 10 for Phones
Vertical Wide Tile in Windows 10 for Phones

The new HFP standard is aimed squarely at eliminating these challenges and users should see a significant improvement in Windows 10 for Phone.  In addition to this, the new platform will continue to support the aptX audio codec, something that can be found in Lumia Denim today.  This allows you to have wired-level sound quality on Bluetooth A2DP and minimizes latency as well as improves audio/video sync issues.

The motivation for Microsoft to improve audio quality out of Bluetooth is clear in that they want to make sure you can use things like Cortana while in a hands-free mode (something that is required while operating a vehicle in many US states, the UK and part of Europe) but also make sure that audio quality for the user and the receiver of the calls are crisp as well.  To take full advantage of this you will need to make sure your Bluetooth headset supports HFP 1.6 which most of the mid-to-high end devices already support.

2 Replies to “Windows 10 for Phone to Support New Bluetooth Hands-Free Profiles for Improved Quality”

  1. The problem that Microsoft needs to address is allowing the use of different Bluetooth profiles with different devices. For example, with Android, I can connect my smartphone to my headset using HFP and my car stereo system via A2DP. Even though my headset supports both profiles and there is no control to disable one or the other, at least, I can force my phone not to use A2DP with my headset (via a friendly setting in the phone itself).

    While Windows 8.1 can use two different profiles with two different devices, the devices themselves must support only the intended profile. For example, if I use Windows Phone in the example above, it connects to my headset using *both* HPF and A2DP, and I don’t want that. If I reconnect to my car stereo system, it will disconnect completely from my headset and connect to my car stereo using both profiles. Again, not what I want.

    Microsoft. This one is so easy to implement. Please give me this kind of control and I’m only one step away from jumping to Windows 10 Mobile in a heartbeat. (The last step is having a PowerAmp-like player that supports ReplayGain).

  2. Yesterday, I was able, with me 3-year-old Android Samsung Galaxy S2 phone with 4.4.4. KitKat SW, to connect it to 3 separate Bluetooth devices at the same time in my car.
    1) Audioengine B1 Bluetooth receiver using the A2DP protocol. This receives the music I listen to from my phone.
    2) Satechi Media Button using the HID protocol. This is used to send media commands to my phone to skip track, go to previous track, play/pause, raise or reduce volume.
    3) Honda HandsFreeLink using the HFL protocol. This is for phone calls.

    This is a perfect setup for me. If Windows 10 does not allow me to do the above in a clean, smooth fashion, then Microsoft can kiss my butt. The only reason I’m postponing my purchase of the LG G4 or equivalent Android device is because I want to see what the Lumia 940 looks like and how the software behaves. Windows 10 Mobile should smooth for entry-level users but customizable for power users, just like the desktop counterpart that we all grew to love.

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